Tuesday 23 May 2017

Waste water site still churning out migrants

I am quite a bit behind with my blogs at the moment. This is partly because work is very busy and partly as I have needed to spend considerable time on bird identification issues.

Temperatures in Nouakchott are rarely stable. The city is at the point of the North Atlantic convergence so the temperatures vary greatly if the cold water moves even a few miles south or north. This is compounded by the importance of the wind direction. If it is from the east then it brings very hot Saharan weather often with dust.

Temperatures can move 15C in two days at any time of year. Two weeks ago on Saturday it was hot and dustly. However Mohamed Vall and I still managed to go out to the waste water site north of the city. We went early to avoid the worst of it.

There was significant passage. Indeed inputting my data into e-bird has been a real pain. It seems most of the filters don't expect passage of many migrants this late. I saw eight chiffchaff yet e-bird expects none at this time. This was one of many examples. Admittedly this was a windfall compared with previous weeks and I curse myself for not checking if any were Iberian chiffchaff passing through from the south.

common redstart 1

There were no less than three common redstart.

common redstart 2

One of the birds which slowed my blogging down was this melodious warbler. I saw plenty in the first half of May.

melodious warbler 1

This one had a significant crest as well as a notably pale wing panel.

Both are features more usually associated with its close relative: Icterine warbler.

melodious warbler 2

Icterine warbler mostly winters further east in Africa and breeds further east in Europe though a few winter in The Gambia and it is on the Mauritanian list.

melodious warbler 3

However the experts were unanimous in telling me this was a melodious warbler after all. It's primary projection needs to be much longer to be an Icterine warbler. Estimating this is not made easy by the fact that one of the tertials on the left side is missing.

Melodious warbler is another species which is not on the e-bird list for May.

woodchat shrike

There seems like an almost endless stream of woodchat shrike on passage. They have been coming through Nouakchott for over 8 weeks. I suspect some may linger for a while to create the impression of even greater numbers.

spur-winged lapwing

The waders have thinned out. There were only three of the regular species: little stint, common ringed plover and Kentish plover. However for the first time a pair of spur-winged lapwing were observed.

One tawny pipit and one yellow wagtail were found near the water's edge.

Plenty of larks came to drink in the less contaminated areas. Most were either black-crowned sparrow lark or crested lark though at least one was bar-tailed lark. Another different looking lark escaped me.

One of the black-crowned sparrow lark took a deep mud bath which is something I have nver seen before.

black-crowned sparrow lark

Back in the bushes was more evidence of late passage including a rufous bush robin.

rufous bush robin 1

This was the first one I had seen in weeks.

rufous bush robin 2

When I worked and birded in Libya the only ones I saw were late arrivals. They were presumably part of this wave.

spotted flycatcher 1

As we headed back to the car, a very tame (or tired) spotted flycatcher allowed close approach.

spotted flycatcher 2

Mohamed Vall and I took a late breakfast before moving on towards the coast where we knew the shore breezes would make briding possible. I will blog about this next.

List of species seen at the north Nouakchott waste water site. May 13th 2017
Spur-winged Lapwing  
Kentish Plover  
Common Ringed Plover  
Little Stint  
Speckled Pigeon  
Laughing Dove  
Namaqua Dove  
Blue-naped Mousebird  
Southern Grey Shrike  
Woodchat Shrike  
Brown-necked Raven  
Bar-tailed Lark  
Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark  
Greater Short-toed Lark  
Crested Lark  
Barn Swallow  
Common House Martin  
Western Olivaceous Warbler  
Melodious Warbler
Spotted Flycatcher  
Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin  
Common Redstart  
Western Yellow Wagtail 
Tawny Pipit  
House Sparrow  
Sudan Golden Sparrow  

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